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I don’t know what took me so long to get to Ristorante Il Cipresso in Loro Ciuffenna. It’s one of those places that flies under the radar, not in most guidebooks, but for me, worth a voyage. Superstar butcher Dario Cecchini, my Tuscan brother, took me there for dinner, ...
I know. I ignored my website and it got stale. I piled pieces I’d written in disorganized lists in my Italian regional files. Magazines closed and their websites changed. The places that I wrote for with pleasure mostly disappeared. I looked around and wasn’t thrilled with the ...
Florence Gelato Festival
What could better for a gelato freak like me than a festival practically outside my front door, five days of gelato-centric events held throughout Florence (also in other locations throughout Italy)? And I was invited to be a judge in a competition for apprentice gelato-makers. Of course I ...
I love Campania - the people, the food, the wine, the volcanic vibe. So I'm excited about the restaurant La Piperna, relocated from the San Niccolo area to a decidedly un-touristy neighborhood in Florence. The restaurant features the cuisine of Ischia, and is far easier for ...
the more beautiful the setting...
I think it's an unwritten banquet rule. The more beautiful the setting, the more terrible the food.
I've undergone gastronomic torture in the most beautiful places, Venetian palace ballrooms with massive chandeliers, Amalfi coast gardens with heartbreaking views, museums, archeological sites. There's often a procession in appropriate ancient garb-usually Roman or ...
Outside my front door
the Left Bank of Florence
I live in the Oltrarno (beyond the Arno, the un-Duomo side of the river-think Left Bank), near piazza Santo Spirito, my favorite piazza in Florence. Unfortunately, restaurants directly in the piazza are a sad story. Caffe' Ricchi has changed hands and although ...
new season....of tomatoes!
Just back to a new season, with tomatoes...
I've been away from home, in California for two weeks, and came back to a delivery from my favorite farmers, the Innocenti brothers, featuring a new season of produce. In addition to beets, cucumbers, spring onions, zucchini with flowers and basil, which ...
Indian Wedding - Monsoon Wedding meets Room with a View
Years ago a delightful Indian couple, Raju and Hemal, took one of my cooking classes. We became friends, I visited them in Mumbai and we stayed in touch. They contacted me last year because their son was getting married and the bride, who had studied at N.Y.U. in ...
Taste 2010 - Part 2
I knew the fair would be impossible to navigate on Sunday and focused on Fuori Taste events. In the afternoon I visited Carapina's new shop, and tasted gelato made with Mieli Thun's superb honey, then tasted a spoonful of crystallized ivy honey, complex, evolving ...
Taste is the one of the most exciting food fairs in Italy. It's in my home town of Florence in the Stazione Leopolda, ex-railroad station, a most beautiful space. For three days well-chosen producers offer an array of culinary jewels, house wares, books, with round table discussions on ...
Superstar Chef Lunch
It's a tradition that started a few years ago, with lots of chef friends in town for the presentation of the Espresso restaurant and wine guides. Raffaele Alajmo reserved two places at my table, brought magnums of Champagne, invited a few friends, I made lunch, and everyone had ...
Best New Product at TASTE
I love the event Taste, a gastronomic fair with quality food, wine and table products, held in the beautiful "Stazione Leopolda", ex-railway station, with off-site events at restaurants, shops and wine-bars throughout the city of Florence. The fair is small enough to walk through in few hours, and ...
The most famous cookies in Tuscany are called "cantucci" or "cantuccini", golden, crisp, studded with whole almonds, most often served with a glass of Vin Santo dessert wine for sipping or dipping. In the Florence area they're known as "biscotti di Prato", probably since the greatest version of this cookie comes from the historic ...
Agriturismo La Petraia
La Petraia is one of the most beautiful agriturismo farms in Italy, tucked away in an unspoiled corner of Tuscany in the Chianti Classico area. The stone farm house dates from the 11th century (check out the archival prints in the living room documenting the history of this ancient property) ...
I'm wild about 'ino, a gastronomic gem-gourmet grocery meets sandwich shop, in Florence, between the Uffizi gallery and the Arno river. Owner Alessandro Frassica has selected some of Italy's greatest artisanal products. The display case in the front room is packed with choice Italian cheese ( many raw ...
Florentine Gelato Crawl
Beginning with Bernardo Buontalenti, Mannerist architect, military engineer, theatrical set designer and supposed inventor of churned-over-ice milk-based gelato for the court of Francesco de' Medici in 1565, Florentines have always taken gelato seriously. But there are many inferior shops, with signs declaring "produzione propria" or "produzione artigianale", where gelato is ...
Florence Wine Event
Oh no, not another wine tasting. But I told you I was a closet wine nerd, and besides, it was right outside my front door. The Florence Wine Event is held in the Oltrarno, the "other" side of the river. This year it was bigger and better, in ...
The Emperor's New Clothes
Fabio Picchi has always been my favorite chef-restaurateur in Florence and he's created an empire in the Sant'Ambrogio area. His restaurant Cibreo, trattoria Cibreino, bar, and private club, Teatro del Sale serve some the city's best food, at prices that range from expensive (Cibreo) to bargain (Teatro del Sale). Membership ...
I love to visit Dario Cecchini, Italy's most famous butcher. His shop in Panzano in Chianti has always been a hang-out for food-lovers from all over the world, who come for a taste of his Chianti "butter" (ground fat-back and herbs), Cosimino (named after the Medici, meatloaf meets huge meatball), ...
Le Chiave d’Oro and Hotel Patio
I've got two new reasons to visit Arezzo, as if one of my favorite frescoes in Italy wasn't enough. The restaurant "Le Chiave d'Oro" is in Palazzo De'Bacci, built by the family who commissioned Piero della Francesca's frescoes "The Legend of the True Cross" in 1452 at the church in their piazza, San ...
I'm a closet wine nerd. I love to visit wineries, and attend a lot of tastings in Italy. My favorites are verticals, tasting different vintages of the same wine, a learning experience about a single wine as an expression of place. So I was thrilled to be invited to Castello ...